Know When to Hold ‘Em: Mastering the Art of Delegation
by Cheryl Marks Young
Have you ever attempted to juggle? There are talented artists who make the task of keeping multiple items moving from hand to hand seem effortless. Yet, no matter how graceful and seamless they appear to bounce items from palm to palm, the truth is there’s a limit to how much the juggler can keep moving before something drops.
Here’s another bit of truth: We’re all jugglers, although most of us are a little less obvious about it. You and I may not be floating items through the air between each hand to entertain an audience, but we certainly are keeping a collection of things moving at one time. Multiple tasks at the office, personal needs, and family responsibilities shuffle from palm to palm. Likewise, we have our limits.
While the performer can limit how many items are being shuffled through a performance, we may not have the same luxury. From work assignments to the things that must get done at home, the tasks and their deadlines may be out of our control. That’s the ‘bad news.’ The good news, however, is no one said you had to do it alone. Here are 5 times you should delegate a task before you drop the ball:
It’s not in your wheelhouse.
From your home life to your work life, there are tasks under your purview that aren’t part of your natural skillset. You launched your business because you’ve got a passion and the talent to help people. Being a business owner, however, doesn’t mean you’re a whiz at marketing. This is when you hire someone – either as an employee or an outside consultant – to do it for you.
You could but so can they.
Yes, you can clean the house and mow the lawn and you can even manage your own payroll and your company’s social media. But you don’t have to. It’s not only okay to hand off tasks that aren’t part of your core competency, it’s also okay to engage help on repetitive tasks that can be handled well by someone who is not you, to free up your time to focus on the activities that really do need your attention.
You feel stuck.
If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or going through the motions, it might be time to pull in a fresh set of eyes. Turning over the task to someone with the right skill set to get the job done may be just what’s needed to regain forward momentum.
You can afford to.
This isn’t about money, per se. This is about having the bandwidth to hand something over. If you can’t take the time to fully explain what’s needed, or to provide some measure of training if needed, then this isn’t the task to hand off. Likewise, if the task at hand is mission-critical or requires your personal attention, then hold tight to it.
You don’t need to right now, but you will someday.
Perhaps today you’ve got the time and ability to do it all, but as your business grows or as you take on more responsibilities, that is going to change. This moment right now, when you don’t need all the help is the right time to start mentoring helpers to take over tasks for you. Begin by passing off small chunks and take the time to train those you’re enlisting. From teaching your children to master the laundry room to training your intern how to build a knock-out sales presentation, you’ll benefit in the long run from empowering those around you today.